As I was packing a few days ago at our other house, I found a note pad, and took a few minutes to journal some of what I was feeling as I packed:

March 23, 2017

We’re moving. Again. And this time, for the first time in my life, I am moving without my mother – without her help, opinion, presence. She will never set human foot into our new home. I don’t think she would have liked it much, anyway. It’s old and too small for her tastes. Mom craved elegance and light. She would have loved the huge live oak trees in the yard, but not the shadows they perpetually cast over the house – inside and out. But she would have put on a bright smile, told me the house was great, and organized my pantry for me.

This move is particularly difficult for me, also, because we are leaving behind the last house my mother ever lived in. The last place she left her physical imprint. I know I will hang the family photos differently, and there are many of her old original watercolor paintings I will not hang at all.

We’ve donated dozens of her books on Catholicism to our parish library. We just don’t have room for them all. I’ve packed up most of the pictures and nic-nacs she had in her bedroom. Alex has agreed to take her bedroom furniture. Kendall and Alicia already have a lot of her kitchen stuff. Abby has claimed the lion’s share of her clothes. The rest are going to Goodwill or consignment.

Mom’s old coffee pot. . . so many memories. .

But today . . . this afternoon . . . I am alone here, packing up her old kitchen stuff that didn’t sell in last weekend’s  yard sale so that Gaylon can take it all to Goodwill. And the wind is blowing outside like crazy. I hate the wind! Growing up in Southeastern New Mexico, on the edge of the Great Plains (the Llano Estacado) gave me a deep loathing for wind. It blows there so often, and so hard! And today it reminds me that this was the time of year that Mom would take me to Lubbock during Spring Break. Granny would go, too. We’d go to the Great Plains Mall and buy clothes for Spring and Summer. We always ate at a restaurant called Brittany’s – with little red telephones at each table where you could call in your order. (I understand they’ve closed down now.) I loved those little red phones! When we were done at the mall we would always stop at a huge toy store called “Kiddie City” and I would get to choose a special toy. (I was horribly disappointed when I learned to read and discovered that this magical place was not actually called “Kitty” City! LOL)

Those trips were always so much fun, but the wind always blew like crazy. I remember it would often blow so hard that the sky would turn brown and we would have trouble seeing the road. It wasn’t unusual for mom to have to turn on her headlights!

So the wind blowing today makes my task particularly nostalgic, as I hold in my hands old mixing bowls, Tupperware, coffee cups and pots, even carving knives, that bring memories of my childhood flooding back to me. Flashes of my mother baking her famous apple pie or chocolate chip cookies. Memories of her in our kitchen just doing everyday “Mom stuff”. It’s hard for me to stay focused on my work – I should be done by now, but my mother’s ghost won’t let me finish. Not yet. I have to pause, to bask in the warm memories of my mother’s love as I was growing up. Even when these tangible mementos of those sweet childhood moments are long gone, her love will remain.

Yes, of everything my mother left behind for me, the greatest of her gifts was love.

“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13

 

I don’t think there is anything that is more deafening than . . . silence.  I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately, and was desperately hoping that I’d be able to sleep in til 9:00 a.m. or so this morning when, suddenly, for no discernible reason, the world fell quiet. And I was wide awake.

I’m not sure why the power went out, but when it did, the white noise machine stopped, the ceiling fan stopped, the air conditioner stopped, and I was enveloped in a cacophony of stillness! There was nothing to do but wake up.  Although, it seemed rather pointless, since I couldn’t exactly go downstairs and brew coffee, or check my email on my computer, or scan that application for water service and email it to the new water company, or ANYTHING.  But, the longer I laid in my bed, praying for the power to come back on, the more awake I became, and so I finally got up.

And tried to call the electric company.  We live in Texas, where, supposedly, we have this wonderful free market and can choose from gobs of power companies to supply us with the necessary magic to brew our morning coffee.  I suppose there are lots of other uses for electricity, but for me, unless I get that first cup of coffee, nothing else really matters.

But I digress.  We use Reliant, and for the most part, they’re okay.  Except that when the power goes out, it’s virtually impossible to find out who to talk to about getting it back on. I Googled them on my iPhone, and got a handy ‘mobile site’ which would have actually been handy if I lived in Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, West Texas (thank God I don’t!!) or New Mexico.  They also had a link to a nebulous area labled “South Texas”, but apparently, Austin does not qualify for that region, either.

So, after several tries, I finally got a Customer Service rep who asked me if I was the account holder.  Really?  So, I couldn’t help it, I had to ask him (remember, I’d not had that all-powerful first cup of coffee) did it really matter whose name was on the account, if all I wanted to do was tell him that the power was out?  “I’m just doing my job, Ma’am.”  Apparently his job description does not include any sort of rational reasoning or thought.  But, perhaps I’m being too hard on the guy.  He did at least connect me to the people who could help with the power outtage.

The power came back on fairly quickly (if one can consider 2 hours quickly. . . ) and when I looked outside, I saw a couple of very guilty looking Time Warner guys.  I hollered out and asked one of them if they had been the cause of my electricity going out, and he had a deer-in-headlights look when he said “Oh, no ma’am, no way!”  But he didn’t really convince me after he promptly turned to his coworker (who was ominously walking toward one of those big greenish power boxes across the street) and yelled “Bob! Pow’r!”  So, yeah, I’m thinking I could have just saved us all a lot of time and called Time Warner to start with.  Who knew?

Anyway, we are in the process of moving, having found a new house to rent that has about 750 more square feet, and lots more storage! It’s in another neighborhood, and I really will miss the neighborhood we’ve been living in, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about the area we’re moving to, so I’m feeling pretty good about it.

So the rest of the day has been spent trying to get utilities hooked up, new keys for the mailbox, buying packing supplies, and shuttling Abby all over the place.  I have managed to catch every red light I’ve come near, and get behind every weirdo driver in Austin today, in the process.  People who were driving 20 miles under the speed limit, people who were weaving all over the road, people who couldn’t decide how fast, exactly, they really wanted to drive.  I’m beginning to understand road rage.  Some people simply should not drive.  As my friend Donna likes to say “Just because you can, does not mean you should!”  And she would know: she teaches motorcycle safety courses.

I’m going to try to take a break for a while, get a bit of rest, and try again tomorrow to get some packing done.  We are hoping to get everything packed this week, and have movers come next Friday.  If we keep that schedule, then I should still be able to get the FISCHE Yearbook put together and back to us by the end of the month. At least as long as the coffee keeps flowing. . .

We are sort of settling in here in Austin.  The move went very smoothly.  We had wonderful help from our amazing friends on both ends of this journey.  In North Carolina, we had a small army to help us pack and load the trucks.  Gaylon’s brother, Chuck, and his wife, Anna, stayed on after the wedding to help us pack.  If it wasn’t for Chuck, that basement would never have been conquered!!  Anna helped me pack up a lot of books upstairs, too.  We would probably still be packing if it wasn’t for my dear friend, Marcia T.,  who pretty much single-handedly loaded my entire kitchen! When it came time to load the trucks, she sent her husband, John, and two sons, Daniel and Andrew, to help, and they didn’t come empty-handed.  She sent a crockpot of sloppy joes, along with a fruit and a veggie tray!  Hmmm. . .  methinks this woman has moved before. . .  Kendall and Lishi were on hand to help on Saturday, along with Clint and his girlfriend, Christine, and Zach C.  Aaron G. was of course there the whole time, and Alex’s buddy, Joshua B. was there almost the whole week.  Kendall’s friend, Joey, who also helped load, drove one of the trucks for us.  My best friend, Lisa, sent me off with coffee.

Once we pulled into Austin, Joey had two of his friends meet us at the house, and they stayed for two days to help unload.  Our dear friends, Tim and Beth, drove down from the Dallas area to help, and of course, Donna and Dave were here.  They all managed to get the truck unloaded in about 6 hours, and Beth even helped me unpack most of my dining room stuff!

To say that we feel loved doesn’t even begin to cover it!!  We have had so many phone calls and emails from folks all over the country checking on us, it really is humbling.  We are so grateful for such incredible friends and family!!

So now our only big challenge is figuring out how to downsize to a home that is about 2/3 smaller than the one in North Carolina!  We are getting rid of so much stuff!!  I have to say, I feel very blessed to have so much stuff to spare.

Now that we are here, Faith has decided to go by her middle name, ‘Abigail’, or ‘Abby’ for short.  I confess that if I had moved to a new city when I was her age, I’d have done the exact same thing!  It’s just tough for us to get used to calling her ‘Abby’!  We are planning on starting school on Monday, and I think we are both looking forward to getting back into our familiar homeschool groove.  It’s definitely time to start living in ‘real time’ and not in limbo anymore!

Alex has a job interview tomorrow with a place called Sprouts.  It is some sort of organic, local produce grocery store.  I am really hoping he gets the job, and then a discount! 😉

Now that we are somewhat settle, and starting to feel ever so slightly more relaxed, I will be posting much more frequently, so check back!

I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.
~Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With The Wind”

We are down to the wire now, and are frantically working to finish packing everything up so we can load it all into a moving van this weekend.  I have been on the phone disconnecting current utilities and services and trying to figure out which ones to connect at the new house. This time next week, we will be in Austin, Texas.  It is all very surreal. 

We have had lots of friends tell us they want to get together with us before we leave, but sadly, that time is past, and we have no choice but to focus all of our time and energy on the task at hand.  I am not happy to be leaving North Carolina.  This is my home. I love it here.  I am leaving behind my dearest friends, my beautiful custom-built house, several beloved pets, and most of all, my oldest son and his new wife.

Am I grieving??  Yes!  But, I must take the Scarlett O’Hara approach if I am to retain any shred of my sanity.  I desperately hope that my friends understand that I am not being cold or unfeeling.  I have no option but to ‘do the next thing’.  I’m sure once we get settled in Austin, and everything starts to sink in on me, I will have many good cries.  But not yet.  I must think about that “tomorrow”.

I really feel like things are just rushing by me now!  Thursday, Gaylon comes home, and my sister and her family are scheduled to arrive, as well.  Then Friday, Gaylon’s brother, Chuck, and his wife, Anna, are coming in. Saturday, of course, is THE DAY!!

I am just numb, I think.  Mom and Faith and I have been packing, and the entire Living Room, Dining Room and Conservatory are packed.  I can’t believe it!  I made little labels for every box, so hopefully, when we get there, it will be much easier to sort through them all and unpack in some sort of organized manner. (Hey. . . it could happen!!!)

Today we talked to the wonderful folks at Janitzio’s Mexican Restaurant in Hendersonville, and scheduled the Rehearsal Dinner there.  I am beyond relieved that we don’t have to worry about all of the prep, cooking and cleaning that we would have been responsible for had it been at our house.  I think it will be a very relaxed, nice evening.

But tomorrow, I think it’s time to shift from packing to full-scale wedding prep.  We are going to look at the Reception Hall tomorrow morning.  Then, Faith gets her hair cut at 2:00, then we are going to get pedicures and manicures.  Wednesday, the “In-Laws” are coming in!  Yay!  I am so excited to finally get to meet Lishi’s parents.  🙂

Wednesday is going to also be devoted to cleaning the house, and making it look as welcoming as possible, considering all of the boxes.  I am not packing a single thing in the kitchen (except the wine glasses, which I packed tonight) until after the wedding.  I need to scrub toilets and vacuum the stairs.

The best news is that tomorrow morning, a small army is arriving to help get the yard in shape.  Kendall is bringing his buddy, Ryan, and Alex and Eli G. are also going to be helping.  It should be done in record time!  Talk about a HUGE relief.

So, things are taking shape, and working out very well, I think.  Our new landlady in Austin seems absolutely WONDERFUL, so I am indescribably grateful about that.  The only “kink” in our plans is that we have not yet found a home for Gitta.  She is an amazing dog, and we love her very much, but I do not think that she will make the move well.  I am trying, in the midst of all of the packing and planning and all, to contact folks who do German Shepherd rescue and stuff.  I am praying HARD.  We found awesome homes for Morpheus and O’Malley.  Surely the Lord will not let Gitta down!

Now. . . my bed is calling my name. . .

Even though our home here in North Carolina still has not sold, we are going forward with our plans to move to Texas in August.  Therefore, I have been spending a lot of time browsing homes for rent online.  In fact, it is sort of my new obsession!  I can’t help it.  There is so little I can do right now, and so looking on line for potential abodes sort of dispels, if only in a virtual sense, my feelings of powerlessness.  The houses are all sort of starting to look the same though. . .

I do wish that leasing agents would do a few things differently.  First of all, I think they should post as many pictures as possible.  And next, following through on that theme, the pictures should be clear.  Not taken with a cell phone.  Those end up being either very pixelated or blurry, or, worst of all, tiny.  Also, the pictures need to be of actual living spaces.  The most important of those being the kitchen.  I am amazed at how many folks don’t bother to include a picture of the kitchen!  I have also seen pictures of windows.  Well, I do like my houses to have windows, but just snapping a shot of a window doesn’t tell me much about the room it’s in.  But even more surprising to me is the number of pictures I have seen of doorknobs and ceiling fans, and even flower bushes!!  Really?  Again, those are all good things to have in a house (especially doorknobs!) but overall, they don’t tell me much about the house itself.

So, this is a frustrating process for me at the moment.  In just a few short weeks (three, to be exact) I will be driving down to Austin to find a home, and I know that will make me feel much better.  Well, except for the fact that I corresponded with a realtor down there today, and she told me that rentals usually only last one day before they get rented, so looking online now probably won’t help me at all in three weeks.  *sigh* Now I am going to have to find a better way to spend my time.  Packing, perhaps?

Image: djcodrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Time has been flying by me lately, and I have had the feeling of not being able to slow down long enough to catch my breath as my life keeps rushing by me at the speed of, well, life!  The other evening I had this image in my mind of somehow trying to run through my life and gather up all the sweet memories and just hang on to them with everything I’m worth. So many things in my life are shifting and changing, and it is really difficult for me to keep up with them all!  Kendall is getting married.  Alex is graduating from our Homeschool, and is talking very seriously about joining the Army after he gets home from Colorado.  Faith just turned thirteen, and is taller than me now!  And, to top it all off, we are moving to Austin in August.

I am excited.  I am looking forward to the adventure of meeting new friends and experiencing new things in new places.  But I am also grieving deeply the life I am leaving behind here in North Carolina.  These Blue Ridge Mountains have been my home for the past sixteen years, and my children have grown up here.  I have so many memories and friends here.  This is so much more difficult than it was to leave New Mexico.  I find myself feeling very melancholy sometimes, and it’s hard to stay upbeat and positive when that happens.

Yet, I know, beyond any doubt, that moving to Texas is what God has for our family right now, and that it will be a good move.  I spent almost two weeks out there at the beginning of this month with Gaylon, and it was wonderful!  Besides getting to spend some really needed one-on-one time with Gaylon without any kids or anything, I really got to remember all the things I love about Texas.  The people in Texas are, without any doubt, the friendliest in the world!  Here on the East Coast, it’s just not so friendly.  Folks in Texas still smile at you for no reason whatsoever when they see you in the store or at the movies.  Heck, they even say “Hello!”, whether they know you or not.  If someone steps in front of you while you’re in the aisle of the grocery store, they say “Excuse me.”  The men are gentlemen, too.  They still hold the door open for women, and say “Yes Ma’am” and “No Ma’am”.

They even drive nicer!  In fact, if you are taking up space in the fast lane and you’re not actually passing a vehicle in the slow lane, they will give you a ticket! People are POLITE.  I didn’t run across a single rude person the whole time I was out there!  So I am very much looking forward to that.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, too, but the Mexican food in Texas is AMAZING.  So is the steak.  The Mexican food out here is okay, but it’s not the Tex-Mex that I grew up with and love.  As far as the steak goes, well, I used to know a guy who wouldn’t order steak unless he was in Texas.  (He was from Chicago, btw).  Now I know why.

And, although I am convinced that North Carolina is one of the most beautiful places on this planet, I can find beauty in Texas, too.  Like the Bluebonnets!  And the Live Oaks.  Bluebonnets and Live Oaks are two of my favorite things. Ever.

But at the same time, I love these Blue Ridge Mountains!  They are warm, and cozy.  I have wrapped them around myself like a favorite quilt.  I love the blazing color in the Fall, and the endless fields of wildflowers in the Spring.  I love the Lightening Bugs and the sweet haze that hangs low over the Summer mountains, and the smell of woodburning stoves drifting through the barren trees of Winter.  I love the woods, the streams and waterfalls. I love my church, our 4-H Club, and our homeschool group.  I love it when Kendall’s friends drop by, even when he’s not here!  I love it when Kendall drops by, too! 😉

I love picking apples in the Fall and making homemade applesauce.  I love how easy it is to grow a garden here, and all the wonderful things I have learned about home canning.  I am still blown away by the fact that strawberries and grapes just grow wild here!  I tried for years to grow strawberries in New Mexico.  Then, we move out here, and they just sprout up out of nowhere!

Yes, there are many things I will miss when we move, and even more people that I will miss. I am trusting in God, and know, without question, that He has the whole thing under control, and that as long as He is in control, everything will be okay.  But even so, this is a bittersweet move, and as exciting as it all is, I know it won’t be easy.

Okay, after a great deal of prayer, discussion, and downright agony, we have decided that even though Gaylon is working in Merkel, Texas, only 20 minutes from Abilene, that it is just not the right place for our family to live.  Abilene is so, ah, West Texas.  And we are so. . . granola!  Let me explain:  West Texas (for those of you who have never been there) looks just like the backdrop of a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western.  And the people there pretty much have the same attitude as the cowboys you see in the Pace Picante Sauce commercials:  “New York City?  Get the rope!”  Just substitute the things we love for “New York City”.  For example:  “Homebirth?  Get the rope!”  or “Vegetarian?  Get the rope!”  You get the idea.

There are no health food stores in Abilene, to speak of.  And by “health food store”, I mean something along the lines of Whole Foods Market.  Not some hole-in-the-wall place that sells ridiculously overpriced vitamins.  They have a homeschool group, apparently, but they have not responded to my email, which I sent almost two months ago. There are no midwives nearby, unless you count the one I found in Brownwood, which is well over an hour away.  Organic gardnening?  I doubt it seriously.  Actually, I seriously doubt you could even get any kind of garden to grow there.  I sure as heck couldn’t in Southeastern New Mexico when we lived there! They don’t even have Verizon there!  No, really!

So, let’s talk about where we DO want to live. 🙂  We have decided that Austin is as close to Asheville as we can get.  The major differences are that Asheville has these amazing Blue Ridge Mountains and is practically sitting on the Appalachian Trail; but Austin has the beautiful Hill Country of Texas, complete with fields and fields of Bluebonnets, and Austin has Tex-Mex.  Mmmmm. . . . tasty!  Austin is full of “culture”, as one of my best friends, Donna, puts it.  And she would know.  She lives there.  When I asked her if they had health food stores there, she laughed and informed me that Whole Foods Market was actually started in Austin!

There are several large homeschooling support groups there, and I have contacted two of them so I could get on their mailing lists and get a feel for the homeschooling community before we get there.  I have been blown away by how friendly the folks are there.  But, I shouldn’t be.  Texans are the friendliest people on the planet.  Austin Area Homeschoolers has 1375 members on its email list.  That’s a LOT of homeschoolers!  And that’s not even counting the really big fundamentalist, Christians only, group.  Or the other group that I contacted, the Holy Family Homeschoolers, which is the Catholic homeschooling support group.  So, I am very excited and hopeful.  The kids and I are very anxious to get there and get settled, and quit living in limbo.  Mom, who of course is going with us, is also very excited and hopeful.

So, please pray for us.  Pray that our house will sell really, really soon, so that we can get on down there and get settled in before the school year gets going.  I know the economy is not so good right now, but with our God, all things are possible!

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